The more the numbers add up and years pass, the more significant our time together becomes. In our society of throwaway everything, including marriages, having a long-term marriage means something. We recently celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. Yeah, that’s a big number. Even more, that’s a lot of learning and relearning, mostly how to gather around you good people to help nurture you through the tides of life.
So much of what flows through my mind these past months is from the grief of missing mama. The memories, while bringing tears of loss, are more about how rich our life has been.
This year, my thoughts went to the week before our wedding. Mama had never met her soon-to-be son-in-law. I was her first born, marrying at the very young age of 20 and filling her with fear of making mistakes she’d made. Mostly, she kept these quiet but as I got older I understood.
We’d planned this simple wedding long distance. Very long distance with her living in the middle of Washing state and us on the southeast coast of Florida. There were no wedding organizers or directors in those days, not that we could have afforded that anyway. I would have married outside were it not for the concern of rain or the older guests, aka family, not quite understanding that.
Mama grabbed her older sister and their mom and hopped on a plane to spend the week with me. I shuttled them to the florist and we planned out how the flowers would be taken from the chapel to the reception hall. I took them to the fabric store where she and my aunt made three table cloths for the long tables at the cake and punch reception. I got them appointments to have their hair done while a friend put some highlights from a box on the strands of my waist length hair that I would wear down the way I always did.
When we scurried to change our wedding attire to our leave-for-the-honeymoon clothes and Henry bent down and ripped his pants, my aunt grabbed them and sewed them up on my sewing machine. The one they’d sewn up the lace-covered table cloths.
Another aunt and uncle traveled from Arkansas to be part of our day. This was my uncle who dedicated me as a baby and I had determined even as a teenager that he would do my wedding one day. They were there, as they have always been.
We haven’t made this life on our own. We have been blessed to have had parents praying for us throughout our lives. These parents are gone now but I believe they are still imploring on our behalf.
We’ve had friends to model marriage and parenting to us to create memories with and even as distance separates us, to be on the other end when we call.
Our marriage has been nurtured and strengthened by others. The celebration of our years together is a celebration that honors them and the faith that has held us all.